GAR Blimey

confessionNovember 24, 1927
Long Beach

Frank E. Foster once stared down the blazing Enfields and Richmonds of Johnny Reb, Bragg’s cannons and Forrest’s cavalry, but it took some punk kid from Long Beach to put him down for good. 

That punk kid is Richard Robert Haver, 16, whose penchant for driving other people’s cars landed him in Chino, where police interviewed him today about a spate of Long Beach robberies last September.  Sure, during one robbery he pushed an old man.  Haver hasn’t been told that the old man died.  

“I saw him coming, although it was dark,” Haver told Detective Sergeants Smith and Alyes.  “At first I tried to avoid him by slinking back against the wall, hoping the man wouldn’t see me.  But he grabbed me by the coat with both hands.”  (Apparently the 85 y.o. Foster figured the whippersnapper wouldn’t be reconstructed.)  “I kept pushing him into the screen porch where he slept.  The door was open as I rushed for it and I pushed the man out of the way.  He tripped on the steps and fell outdoors onto the sidewalk.  Then I ran toward the front of the house and headed for the ocean.  I’m sorry I pushed him so hard, now that I know he is an old man.”  Haver’ll be sorrier once the authorities inform him that, on top of being popped for the eight homes he ransacked while the occupants slept (earning him the sobriquet "The Pants Burglar", in that he stole away with trousers in the night and emptied their pockets), he’s a murderer.

(Haver was sent to the State Reform School to remain until he turned 21, at which point the courts would again pass upon his case; the papers make no mention of that event or its outcome.)

quails!In further news of the Boys in Blue, another Damn’d Yankee, this one in Spokane, has problems of another variety.  “I’m living on borrowed time,” said Enoch A. Sears, 84, “far past my allotted three score and ten, and I only want peace and quiet.”  He has filed for divorce from his wife of one year, and has departed his home, leaving it to his wife, 59, and her mother, 79.  Enoch simply stated he was “too old to become accustomed to living with a mother-in-law.”

Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation

Come on Vacation Headline

October 1, 1927
Los Angeles

Police will be working twelve hour shifts until the men who robbed the Merchant’s National Trust and Savings Bank, at Fifty-Seventh Street and South Broadway, of $5000 ($59,746.26 USD 2007) are in taken into custody.

During the brazen daylight robbery, six unmasked bandits threatened more than forty bank employees and depositors with shot-guns and revolvers.

Witnesses told officers that the gunmen drew up behind the bank in a large, expensive black sedan. Five men piled out of the car and walked to the front of the building, while the driver of the getaway car pulled around and parked right in front of the bank doors. Bank interior

Waving a shotgun, the first crook entered the bank. He made no attempt to halt several terrified bank patrons as they ran screaming from the bank seeking safety.

One of the men stood lookout on the sidewalk, while the remaining thieves rushed into the bank lobby brandishing their weapons and shouting at everyone to hold up their hands. Bank manager R.C. Elliott was struck by one of the gunmen and forced to lie on the floor. The other employees were unmolested, and the customers were not robbed. Two of the crooks jumped behind the counter and forced the tellers to lie on the floor. The men then pointed their weapons at the prone employees, and proceeded to empty the cash drawers. Having made their withdrawal, the gang fled to the waiting automobile which then careened north down Broadway at a high rate of speed.

One of the tellers, W. Ord, raced to his car and followed the fleeing bandits several blocks before losing sight of them in traffic at Forty-Sixth Street and South Broadway. He managed to obtain the license number of the car, which had been reported as stolen only a few nights ago.

Police have concluded from the gang’s modus operandi that they are from the east, and not among the locals currently wreaking havoc in a city-wide crime wave. The law won’t rest until the miscreants are brought to justice. So…if the bad guys are here on vacation, they’d better pick up a Hollywood snow globe and a crate of oranges, and head for home.

Don’t Mess With The Elks

Elks Club Watchman Foils Bandits

September 25, 1927
Los Angeles

"A carnival of crime" took place in Los Angeles between last night and early this morning, the undisputed high point of which was a shootout at the Elks’ Club. Shortly after dawn, two men walked into the venerable lodge located at Sixth and Park View. One of them carried a black traveling bag, but neither of them sought lodging for the night. Instead, they pulled a gun on the cashier and asked, in the best time-tested bandit fashion, for him to "stick ’em up." The man with the bag then walked behind the counter and forced open the safe, placing wads of cash and silver coinage into his portmanteau.

The thieves had retreated about halfway across the lobby when night watchman Charles Swaverly appeared at the top of the stairway to the second floor, his rifle aimed squarely at the bad guys. "Throw up your hands," cried Swaverly, whereupon the man carrying the money bag dropped to his knees and raised one hand above his head. "Both hands," replied the cool-headed defender of the Elks, upon whose recollection of the incident we must depend.

The bagman dropped his booty and raised his other hand, while his partner took cover behind a column. When Swaverly ordered him to come out with his hands up, he sent a bullet whizzing past the night watchman’s right ear. Swaverly and the gunman spent the next minute shooting up the Elks’ Club lobby. When Swaverly stopped to reload, the robbers hightailed it, leaving the bag of loot behind. By the time he made it outside, the getaway car was too far away for Swaverly to identify its make or model.

In this morning’s Times, it all sounded a bit like a Fairbanksian fantasy, but the police were clear: thanks to Swaverly’s gunslinging, the Elks recovered thousands of dollars.

Robber Queen

Robber Queen Headline

September 24, 1927 Patricia Sullivan
Los Angeles

What’s wrong with the dames in this town? When they aren’t powdering and painting their faces, they’re at petting parties, drinking in blind pigs, or dancing the night away doing the black bottom or the kinkajou. Now it seems that they are also morphing into gun molls. According to police, several female stick-up artists are currently menacing Los Angeles residents, and at least two of them are red-heads.

With so many women bandits prowling the streets and preying on the unwary, competition for the title of Robber Queen is fierce…the most recent contender for the crown is Patricia Sullivan, aged 23. Miss Sullivan and a male companion were taken into custody by Officers Reid and Garner in front of her apartment building at Tenth and Western.

Patricia was transported to the county jail where she was booked on suspicion of robbery. Her accomplice has been identified as 27 year old shoe salesman, Alvarado Contreras, of 1132 West Thirty-First Street. The two have avowed their innocence but Miss Sullivan closely resembles the description of the lady crook given to police, from her toes right up to her auburn tresses.

Detective Lieutenant Smith and Captain Kallmeyer of Wilshire Division are arranging for the victims of Her Royal Heistness to come to down to the station to positively identify her as the woman who terrorized them.

Patricia’s reign as Robber Queen was short-lived…she was only Queen for a Day.

The Politics of Insanity

Crazed Headline

August 27, 1927
Pasadena

All it takes to be considered insane these days is to assert your First Amendment right to free speech…with a knife. Oppressed Cartoon

According to night watchman F.M. Winchester, he was making his rounds when a man confronted him shouting, “Down with America! Sacco is dead!” The agitated man then lunged at him with a shiv.

The aptly named Winchester fired three shots above the man’s head, at which time the stranger turned and ran off into the night. The shots drew a crowd of on-lookers and police to Miller’s Alley near Marengo Avenue.

Detective Sergeants Cheek, Mansell, and Officer Armer followed the trail of the alleged lunatic, who was subsequently identified as Elias Soto Hernandez. The suspect was arrested at 230 East Union Street and transported to the County Hospital in Los Angeles on suspicion that he may be insane.

Hernandez was protesting the execution in Massachusetts of Italian born anarchists and convicted murderers, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Their executions on August 23rd followed two trials of dubious fairness. Both trials were presided over by Judge Webster Thayer who displayed a blatant bias against the defendants. During the second trial, defense motions made by California attorney Fred Moore were frequently denied by the Judge who said, "No long-haired anarchist from California can run this court!" Thayer was also overheard referring to Sacco and Vanzetti as, “…those anarchistic bastards…”.

Sacco and VanzettiWhether or not the men were guilty of robbery and murder remains a topic for debate. What is certain is that their case was the culmination of the first so-called “Red Scare” which began amid the violence, chaos, and political unrest circling the globe during World War I.

World wide protests had failed to save the condemned men from the electric chair, but fifty years later on August 23, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis (who became the democratic presidential nominee in 1988) issued the proclamation that the men had been treated unjustly and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names."

A Good Man is Hard to Find

A Good Man Headline

August 20, 1927
Malibu

In this case “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is not a reference to Flannery O’Connor’s allegorical tale of good and evil, faith and redemption – no, we are talking about finding a good man, one who won’t desert his date on a quiet stretch of highway at the first sign of trouble, escorting her safely to her home instead.

Thelda Gollett, of 456 Westminster Avenue, and Arthur Israel of 756 1/2 South San Pedro Street, were taking a relaxing drive in the Los Flores Canyon area when a man stepped out onto the roadway waving a revolver, and ordered them to stop. Upon seeing the bandit Thelda jumped from the car and started to run, with the gun wielding crook only a few yards behind her.

Rather than stay and protect his date, Arthur spun his car around and screeched off in the direction of Los Angeles.

Arthur wouldn’t learn of Thelda’s fate until after she had returned home unscathed. She reported to police that she hidden beneath a bridge until the highwayman disappeared. Once the coast was clear she was rescued by a passing truck – driven by a good man.

We suspect that this was the couple’s last date. Maybe Thelda will keep company with that chivalrous truck driver.

Another Accepted Invite

 accused

 

luringAugust 19, 1927
Los Angeles

annaAll the noir hallmarks here:  a destitute, starry-eyed country girl, the shifty grifter she befriends, a rube with some dough in his pocket, a classic con, the crummy apartment hotel and a dark city.

Anna Karrick, 22, ran away from her Illinois farm home to win fame in pictures, but found herself down and out.  

At a dance, she met a nice guy, Phillip Linker, of 1327 West Fourth Street.  She persuaded him to come back to her annaplace at 532 South Fremont Avenue (one imagines it didn’t take all that much persuasion).  Once there, in the hallway, thoughts of ingress dancing in Linker’s head, he is brained by a rolling-pin, wielded by one Jess F. Waller.  Linker wakes up in a taxicab, lightened of seven dollars and other valuables.

Waller and Karrick are thrown into County and charged with robbery and ADW.  Anna told the court today about her relationship with Waller, sure, but denied knowing he’d be there with her rolling-pin.

Sadly the Times didn’t see the need to print the trial’s outcome, and because there’s no Anna Karrick listed in imdb, we must sadly assume she never broke through Hollywood’s gates.

532532 South Fremont (now site of Glossy Black Tower, left) may be long gone, but it was a fun place while it lasted.  In May 1929, Filipino nationals Cal Blanco and Ceferino Sandries argued over women with some sailors from the USS Colorado, when Blanco announced, “I’m going to kill all you sailors,” and so sailor Clyde Forehand shot them both dead; July of 1929 saw a riot there involving thirty sailors and six women, at which two women and seven men were booked on suspicion of robbery; Jack Wilson and Clark Falcon, leaders of a gang of automobile plunderers, were arrested with their booty here in February, 1932; in September 1935 Robert Honchell, a 25 year-old taxi driver, was having a drinking party with his pal Edward Folder, a 29 year-old unemployed café worker, when a woman showed up with her infant daughter—Folder’s insistence on taking the child out for candy started a quarrel, and Folder ended up stabbed mortally in the chest by Honchell…you get the idea.

This Ain’t No Party…

Petting Party Headline

August 13, 1927
Los Angeles

These days a petting party can be dangerous in more ways than one…just ask Dagmar Carlson.
 Dagmar Carlson
Dagmar Carlson, 324 South Rimpau Street, and her escort, William Wade were necking in his car when a trio of bandits appeared and held them at gun point, relieving William of his wrist watch, billfold and a notebook.

As a witness for the prosecution Dagmar told Judge Baird, “When they stuck that gun in my face and told me to stick up my hands, that’s just what I did.”

Five men have been implicated in a series of petting party hold-ups, but only three have been charged with robbing Dagmar and William. The three men are: Jack Olympus, Clyde Thomas and Elmer Smith.  The remaining members of the gang, Orville Kindig and Maurice Schott, were ordered to be held on two other counts of robbery. Deputy DA Crail said that seventeen more counts of robbery will be filed against the men within the next few days.  Each of the crooks is being held on $10,000 bail ($119,742.53 USD 2007).

Petting party bandits continued to be the scourge of dark side streets and remote lover’s lanes all over the country. One of the most famous criminal cases in the history of Los Angeles would be that of notorious “Red Light Bandit”, Caryl Chessman. Chessman, reform school alum and former prison escapee, would be paroled in December 1947. On January 23, 1948 he would be arrested on seventeen counts of robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Legal maneuvering and numerous appeals, particularly regarding the application of California’s “Little Lindbergh” law, would keep his case in the courts for twelve years. He wrote four books while on death row, all became bestsellers. His case achieved so much notoriety that many famous people including Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, Eleanor Roosevelt and Billy Graham, petitioned Governor Edmund G. Brown (an opponent of the death penalty) for clemency on the death row inmate’s behalf.

Caryl Chessman

Over the years he was granted eight reprieves – but Chessman was finally strapped into the chair in San Quentin’s lethal gas chamber on May 2, 1960. As the chamber filled with cyanide the emergency telephone rang, but the call came seconds too late to stop the execution.

Death Before Dishonor, Your Honor

 ghost

August 12, 1927
Los Angeles

leapAlice Miller, 24, was hanging out with her buddies Helen Myers, Norman Myers and Robert Wilkenson—the four of them all out on bail on various charges of grand larceny, pickpocketing, and vagrancy—in her little room at the Hillman Apartments, 1010 Ingraham Street.  

There’s a knock on the door.  Seems that Robert Seaner, the bondsman who’d bailed Alice out when she got pinched for pickpocketing in downtown department stores, has just received some disturbing news from Chief of Police Laubenhemer out in Milwaukee.  Was it true, Alice, that back in Milwaukee, where you were known as Mrs. Mary Becker, you escaped from the Industrial Home for Women at Taycheedah?  Would you be so kind as to come with me down to the station so we can sort this thing out?  Sure thing, says Alice, let me go in the other room for a moment and change into my street clothes.

aliceBut the moments come and go and the collected find the room empty.  She’s chosen death over jail:  through the open window, they see her broken body lying four stories below.

Despite the basal skull fracture, broken nose and arm, and assorted internal injuries, Alice survives to stand trial.  On November 26, Alice is freed on the charge of shoplifting, due to insufficient evidence; she is promptly rearrested by Milwaukee officers, who set off with their prisoner.
 taycheedah

Angelenos Run Amuck in One Day Crime Spree!

July 30, 1927
Los Angeles and its crime ridden suburbs

This has been a mad, felony fueled day in the Southland, and there isn’t even a full moon! We have four tales of crime including a beating, triple poisoning, robbery and assault, and finally the murder of a policeman in Arcadia by three wayward youths. Read them at your leisure, or devour them all at once.

Mystery Girl

A severely beaten woman was dropped off at Culver City Hospital by three men, who then sped away. The victim’s identity has not been confirmed, but she is believed to be Vivian Edwards of 501 S. Rampart. The injured woman lapsed in and out of consciousness. Finally in a moment of lucidity, she said that she had been assaulted by a man named Dick Burk. No trace of her alleged assailant has been found. The young woman’s injuries are critical and it is feared that she may die.

 

 

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Trio Poisoned

In Glendale, a wealthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Armstrong and their nurse, Mrs. M. Woolf, are recovering in the Armstrong’s home at 1311 Rossmoyne, after having been poisoned with arsenic. The couple’s servant, Ray Tayama, is being sought in connection with the crime. The missing domestic had been discharged by Mr. Armstrong earlier in the afternoon, and as a farewell gesture Tayama served the three people coffee laced with arsenic and then vanished.

 

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Are these the only cases from the police blotter today? Don’t be ridiculous! The mayhem continues…

Wife Hovers

Ex-con and bail jumper Paul Knapp spent the day in the arms of his lovely wife Josephine, while she tenderly patted his cheek and vociferouslyPaul Knapp declared his innocence of robbery and assault. Josephine may be confident that her husband is guiltless of the charges against him, but his record speaks persuasively to a life of crime.

Paul was a cop in Seattle from 1919 until 1923 when he was dismissed for being absent without leave, refusal to obey orders, and for participating in a liquor hi-jacking. He was busted in Los Angeles in 1924 for attacking a woman, but he fled before he could be tried. By 1925 he was in Portland doing fifteen months in McNeil Island Federal pen for impersonating a Federal officer.

In April of this year, after vowing to shoot it out with the law, he was cornered by police and wounded in the shoulder. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and as a fugitive from justice. As if those charges weren’t enough, he was also wanted in Seattle for jumping bail and in Portland for violation of the Mann Act!

Earlier this month, a court order allowed the bandit to be released into the custody of two deputy sheriffs so that he could visit a dentist – whose office was conveniently located across the street from his mother’s house. Paul asked his custodians if he could be allowed to use the bathroom at his mother’s place. The police acquiesced, and once inside the Josephine Knapphouse the bandit’s cagey spouse and his wily mother engineered his escape through a trap door in the closet of the home, while the clueless officers continued to wait for him outside!

Following his escape, Paul and Josephine reunited and hid out in a small apartment at 1057 South New Hampshire which had been rented for them by an accomplice known to police. On a hunch, Detective Lieutenant Hull of the Central Police Station investigated and found Paul and his wife at the apartment. The couple’s crime partner is being hunted.

Paul’s mother and his wife have been accused of conspiracy for engineering his Houdini-like escape. A glimpse into the future finds Paul sentenced to from sixteen years to life in the state pen. His mother and his wife will seek probation, but no word if they’ll be successful.

 

 

 

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Had enough crime yet? Neither have we…

Police Slaying

Our final story for this summer day in July of 1927 is a tale of flaming youth and flaming guns! Frank Miller

Under arrest for car theft and the murder of Arcadia police officer Alfred Mathias are: Frank Miller, 18 years of age, 820-1/2 West Third Street, accused of the actual slaying; Ray Oddell, 18, Fourth and Beaudry streets, confessed driver of the get away car and Miller’s accuser. Also in custody is William Montfort, 21, 903 West Fifty-ninth Drive who admitted to have been along for the ride, but claimed to be ignorant of his two companion’s hold-up plans.

Ray OddellThe three boys have been friends since meeting in the State reform school at Ione. Both Oddell and Montfort credit Miller with being the brains of the outfit and insist it was he who formed the plan to rob a barbeque stand in Arcadia, which resulted in the shooting death of Officer Alfred Mathias.

The boys were sitting in the stolen automobile when they were approached by Officer Mathias. The cop asked Oddell for the car’s registration. Miller spoke from the back seat and told the officer he had the pink slip. Mathias thought the young man was acting suspiciously and asked “what are you sitting on?” Frank whipped out his gun and demanded that the officer “stick ‘em up”. Mathias bolted and headed for the rear of the car as Frank fired, leaving the policeman dead in the parking lot. William Montfort

Set the time machine for two months hence; September 1927. Frank Miller will plead guilty to murder and auto theft and will be found guilty. He’ll be lucky. The jury will recommend that the youth not hang, but rather spend one year to life in San Quentin. Frank’s partners in crime Ray Oddell and William Montfort, will face similar fates.

 

The flaming youths burned out…and so have we! What a day!